I remember the day I arrived in London for the first time as an adult so clearly, even though it was more than two years ago… It was something about the majestic houses that line up the streets, the continuous hustle and bustle of the city and the beauty of just every corner you turn to, I knew this city was always going to have a special place in my heart..
Since I spent a while in London, I decided to dedicate separate posts for the food scene there, which I will be publishing soon.. For now, I wanted to give you a sample itinerary for the prime spots that you should be covering if you ever visit.. This is based on me living there for almost a year, taking people who came to visit me around and also returning to London as a visitor myself around a month ago.
While this list might not be exhaustive, it includes the main areas and tourist attractions that you definitely should cover while in London:
- Start off on The Strand, home to many of the main hotels in London such as Savoy, One Aldwyich, ME London by Melia. There you can pass by the major theatre houses located on Aldwych and if you’re walking there at night you can see people scurrying around before and after their shows, grabbing a bite in Covent Garden. By continuing to walk along the Strand, you will reach Trafalgar Square, one of the main public squares in London that houses the National Gallery and is home to a lot of the public demonstrations that happen in London. If you’re a fan of art, then definitely stop by the National Gallery as it has a beautiful display of +2,300 paintings from the mid 13th century up to the 1900s. The architecture of the building itself inside is also very beautiful.
- From Trafalgar Square, walk along Whitehall street to see the Horse Guards and if you time it right you might even pass by when the change of guards is happening. From the Horse Guards place you can either continue to St. James Park and the other parks in London or continue down the street past 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister of the UK, reaching Big Ben. Don’t be surprised, it will look just as majestic as it does in photos, if not more. If you continue walking down Westminster Bridge, you will reach Southbank, home to London Eye (You can buy tickets there, or online at: https://www.londoneye.com/) Southbank is a great spot to take photos with Big Ben in the background ( I can vouch for that, I took my graduation photos there.) If you’re going during Christmas time, Southbank has a really nice Christmas market with live performances and delicious food stands!
- From there you can take the tube to London Bridge, where you can easily walk to one of my favourite food markets in London, Borough Market. Several Harry Potter scenes were shot in and around this area, you can even take a guided tour of these spots. I will include a link to my top picks at Borough Market once I publish the London Food posts. From Borough Market, you can continue walking along the Southwark cathedral to bankside, passing by Shakespeare’s Globe (A replica of the Elizabethan theatre showing Shakespeare plays in the open air) to reach Tate Modern (London’s national gallery for international modern art). After touring Tate Modern, you shouldn’t miss out on crossing Millenium Bridge and taking the best photos of St. Paul’s cathedral from there. The walk from Borough Market to St. Paul is actually one of my favourite “mini-tours” of London.
These items above will take around 3-4 hours for you to complete depending on how many stops you will be taking for food, pictures, galleries, etc. There are also other things that you must do while in London:
- Visit Shoreditch, the creative and hipster hub of East London. If you walk from Brick Lane towards Shoreditch you’ll even have a chance to see some of the best street art in London lined up on the way. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, make sure to check out Brick Lane’s sunday market, filled with second-hand finds and food stalls. All across Shoreditch you will find vintage stores and independent boutiques. Shoreditch is also home to Boxpark, a popup mall filled with popular food popups such as Soft Serve Society (see photo). Shoreditch also has some of the best bars and clubs in London such as Cargo, Queen of Hoxton, Nightjar, etc.
- Shop along Regent’s, starting off at Piccadilly Circus which is London’s own Times Square. Not only is it beautiful to walk down Regent’s Street all the way to Oxford Circus and reaching Regent’s Park, they also have the widest variety of international stores lined up the streets. If you go early enough in the morning, stores will not be as crowded and you will be able to shop with a peace of mind.
- Visit Green Park, my favourite park in London. There is nothing special about it, but it is so green and serene, I loved sitting there for hours doing nothing. From Green Park you can walk to Buckingham Palace to see the house of the Queen and then continue to Hyde Park. Hyde Park is huge, people go there to exercise, feed the ducks along the Serpentine Lake, enjoy a cup of coffee at the Serpentine cafe or rent a bicycle. During Christmas time, Hyde Park is home to Winter Wonderland, one of London’s main Christmas markets.
- Go to Camden, one of London’s other hip Boroughs, this place has markets such as the Lock Market, Lock Village, Stables Market which are great for souvenirs, art pieces and books. It also has a very popular food market that gets really busy on weekends. After you pick up something to eat from the market, walk along Regent’s canal reaching Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill is a hill located on the northern side of Regent’s Park and has some of the best views of the city. It’s a great idea to relax there after walking all the way down from Camden.
- Visit Harrods, one of London’s oldest and biggest department stores. Walking downwards along Brompton Road, you will reach the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world’s largest museum of art and design, as well as the Natural History Museum. During Christmas time you also have the chance to ice skate at the Natural Museum ice rink.
Great areas to walk in for cafes, shops and restaurants: Covent Garden, South Kensington, Mayfair, Soho, Notting Hill, Neal’s Yard.
Please let me know if you end up following any of the suggestions above! Would love to hear out your thoughts!